"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."
Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.
First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
It takes a lot to be distinctive. In a recent class we tossed out the word unique because it’s cliche’d in this culture. But you could try it on for size by asking - what is unique about your particular take on a subject or process. Loads of people know how to do shibori. Loads of people know how to put dye on a screen and let it dry out so that it can be reactivated and printed later. Lots of people are thrilled by bubble wrap as a part of this printing. But technique has limitations. Most of it looks the same. If I line up fifteen samples of breakdown printing in a row, will I be able to tell who made what? Highly unlikely. The technique itself isn’t that distinctive.
And then there are artists who got there first. Nancy Crow appropriated and perfected improvisational piecing. Jan Myers Newberry has taken the use of shibori in quilts to a masterful level. Trying to outdo either of these masters is not for the faint hearted. I don’t think it can be done. So the point is - what are you going to do with a technique to make it distinctively your own?
There’s a lot of bad art in the world. There are bad paintings and bad art quilts. We don’t want to lose track of the basic reality Don Henley tapped when he wrote “You never see a hearse with a luggage rack.” My bottom line is the importance - the value - of the process. What you learn from engaging with materials. How making defines, refines and reshapes the core of your soul.
You may never achieve anything that is as famous or perfect as a Nancy Crow quilt. We’re not all visionaries. But you have a right to create distinctive work and this is a worthy goal. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you align your preferences, skill sets, and goals with what you care about. Because it is what you care about that makes work distinctive.
And it’s not just about content. You may care deeply about color or pattern or line. Passion is not predictable. It’s personal.